Three-Ring History

It's been called "The Greatest Show on Earth," and while there are some peep-show dancers in Times Square that might disagree, the circus certainly has a long history of providing family entertainment. P.T. Barnum's first traveling show began in the late 1800s and rivaled that of James Bailey. Rather than put each other out of business, the two combined forces to create the Barnum and Bailey circus, which was merged after their deaths with another competing circus founded by seven brothers in the Ringling family. More than a century later, the circus is still providing audiences with high-flying feats, elephants, tigers, cotton candy, carnies and clowns—terrifying, crazy-faced, possibly schizophrenic clowns. Bello, named "America's Best Clown" by TIME magazine, is the star of the show. (For the record, I have a coffee mug that says "World's Best Grandma," but that doesn't make it true.) Why parents think subjecting kids to people in hobo clothes and drag makeup is OK, I'll never understand. But I'm guessing with enough face-pies, water-squirting and falling down, anything is funny. See The All-New, All-Live 135th Edition of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Ave. Arrive one hour before showtime for an interactive pre-show party, free to all ticket holders. Tickets range from $12 to $75, with a premium "celebrity" ticket available to those who want to be a part of the show. The circus continues through July 30 and has another run August 2 through August 6. Call 214-373-8000 or visit
July 26-30; Aug. 2-6
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Darci Ratliff